I love to make lists. Who's with me!? The problem is, sometimes we spend too much time on lists... talking about what we want to happen... and not enough actually doing.
Trust me, I make more lists than anyone. I run a private cooking business... I'm launching an apron line... I try to keep up with producing online content... I'm always trying to do a bunch of different things at the same time. It gets complicated. Sometimes, I can't see up from down. How to make time for one thing, how to shift focus to the next...
So I make lists. And lists do help me to organize my mind and schedule my life. And what I've learned is that it's more helpful for me to focus my goals on the present, i.e. shit I can do right now or in the near future, rather than long-term.
I would have wasted a lot of time had I spent hours setting 5-year, 7-year, and 10-year goals in the last decade. My life has taken many turns in directions I could have never predicted. I could have never said, I want to move to New York and start a private chef business where I get to entertain and throw parties for a living, and then start an apron line so that I can marry my love of fashion and food in a way that will inspire other women to feel positive in the kitchen. Why? Because I didn't even know it was possible! But you know what I did do... I made short-term goals in the present tense: to cook and blog and create YouTube videos as often as I could. Doing those actionable items led me to where I am today.
Here's a good article from a smart dude who's talking about the same stuff: We need to focus on the process of achieving our goals rather than the outcome. Say you want to lose 10 pounds. Instead of focusing your energy on that, focus on the daily goal of getting to the gym. Or eating more vegetables and whole foods. "Losing 10 pounds" isn't even really the goal, is it? Isn't it to be healthier, lose some weight, and feel good about yourself? Doing those actionable items will make that happen.
I snooped around on some more work from that author and he tells a great story that takes that point a step further. It's about a pottery teacher who splits his class in two, and tells one side that they will be graded on quantity, and the other on quality. At the end of the grading period, it was the students working toward quantity that actually ended up producing the pieces of the highest quality. They made more pieces, thus got more practice in, and ended up being better potters than the guys who sat there and agonized over making one perfect piece.
Talk less. Plan less. Do more. Happy 2014!